Today we are celebrating the feast of one of the four evangelists, St. Mark. The little we know about Him is from his work for the Lord. Saint Mark was converted to the Faith by the Prince of the Apostles, St. Peter, whom he later accompanied to Rome, acting there as his secretary or interpreter as claims by a patristic writer, Papias of Hierapolis. In other words, Mark’s gospel records Peter’s remembrance of Jesus’ deeds and words. And also he wrote the gospel especially that the Roman people entreated him to put in writing for them the substance of Saint Peter’s frequent discourses on Our Lord’s life. The Evangelist did this under the eye and with the express sanction of the Apostle and every page of his brief but graphic Gospel so bore the impress of Saint Peter’s character, that the Fathers of the Church used to name it “Peter’s Gospel,” (some information are taken from Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea, Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).
His association with Peter appears in 1Pet 5:13. When Saint Peter wrote his First Epistle to the churches of Asia, he affectionately joined to his own salutation that of his faithful companion, whom he calls “my son Mark.”
Another information that we can have, biblical and non-biblical, about him is that, St. Mark was the son of Mary who resided in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12) and whose house was the center of Christian of activity. Barnabas was his cousin (Col 4:10). He joined Barnabas and Paul on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:5). When they reached Perga and Pamphylia (Modern Turkey) he left and returned to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). This fact destroyed Paul’s confidence in him because Paul would not take him on the second missionary journey (Acts 15:37). This occasioned the separation of Paul and Barnabas, who took Mark with him again in Cyprus.
Later, Mark must have reconciled with Paul, who calls him a fellow worker (Phlm 24) and he appears with Paul in Rome (Col 4:10). This association is further confirmed in 2Tim 4:11.
Later tradition assumes that Mark was one of the 72 disciples appointed by Jesus (Luke 10:1) and further identifies him with the young man fleeing naked at Jesus’ arrest (Mark 14:51-52) in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The Egyptian Church claims Mark as its founder and from the fourth century the See of Alexandria has been called “the Chair of Mark.” Other places attributing their origin to Mark are the Italian cities of Aquileia and Venice (taken from the homily of Fr. Willy Villegas, SVD Bible Diary 2002).
But what I admire most of St. Mark is what he recorded in today’s gospel of the words of Jesus telling His disciples before He ascended into heaven to ‘go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature,” (v. 15). And so I would invite you to reflect on the three important words that are found in this statement of Jesus of sending His disciples, like us, into the whole world.
The first word is “Go.” Pope John Paul II says that Jesus Christ calls us first; then He reveals himself to us and teaches us and then He sends us out. This last step of sending out is occurred in today’s gospel passage. In other words, we should not be contented to profess our faith in Christ with our lips but to go out to others. Christ Himself has given us an example of carrying out the mission of going out to other towns as He said to Peter: “Let us go on to the neighboring towns so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that it what I came out to do,” (Mark 1:38).
The second word is “Proclaim.” Our desire to proclaim Christ has led us to heed Jesus’ command to “go.” But what is it that we want to proclaim? Who is the Christ we are proclaiming? The more that we know Him through our prayer, the more we will want to multiply ourselves to write, preach, and teach Christ, to go out and proclaim Him with our lives, with our words and through our apostolate.
The third word is “Whole Creation…every creature.” Being disciples of Jesus is not a weekend task but we are His disciples twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year for the Holy Spirit works twenty four hours a day for this mission, walang pahinga. He works through a myriad of ways and many of these are unexpected. If we love, we will always be attentive of everything speak to us of the mission. We should not be contented of reaching out only one or two souls. It is because love never ends and will always want to reach more souls and to reach them as quickly as possible and bring them back to Christ.
When we begin to exercise our apostolic zeal we may find hurdles in our way. We should not succumb to discouragement. Rather, as Pope John Paul II states in his, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, we should have that “holy stubbornness to proclaim the Gospel to everyone.” St Paul did it. We need to be like St. Paul. We need to be like St. Mark.
See Today’s Readings: Feast of Saint Mark, Evangelist
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